Konami's series of music games, collectively called the Bemani line, just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Not only are new variants introduced to the Japanese marketplace from time to time, but Konami also releases updates for all the games in the series. Guitar Freaks Append 2nd Mix is an add-on disc, delivering new songs to Konami's guitar game. It requires the original Guitar Freaks disc, as well as near-mastery of the original game.
In case you're unfamiliar with the Guitar Freaks games, here's brief recap of how, exactly, the game works. The premise is simple: You have a guitar controller, which consists of three colored buttons at the top, and a small flipper placed where you would normally pick the strings. Guitar Freaks has a vertical bar staff that consists of three bars, color-coded to coordinate with the buttons on the guitar. As the notes reach the top of the staff, you must strum on the guitar while holding the coordinating button. Play well, and you'll progress through the game. Missing too many notes ends your game. After you complete a level, you'll get a rating screen showing how many notes you hit, how many you missed, and other statistics. This screen will also give you an overall rating (E being the poorest and A being the best, with special ranks for when you're close to perfection). How long your game will last depends on your song grades.
The new songs are decidedly more difficult than most of the first game's tracks. Sure, you've got easy songs like Go Go Again, or I Think About You, but the more difficult songs require some pretty amazing finger work. The songs of 2nd Mix are outstanding, though they aren't quite as catchy as the 1st Mix tracks. The songs are also spread out across more genres this time around, including a little flamenco guitar. And there is more blues, surf-rock, and a little J-Pop. Graphically, the game hasn't changed a bit, unless you count the new animations that accompany the new songs.
While the original Guitar Freaks has addictive qualities that imbue it with a nearly ungodly amount of replay value, adding 2nd Mix to it really makes the series more complete. Even if you've mastered Guitar Freaks, 2nd Mix will draw you back in and get you hooked all over again. If you've already got the original game and two guitar controllers (hey, sometimes you're going to need to jam with a friend, so don't skimp out and only get one of them), there's no reason to not pick up the 2nd Mix add-on. In fact, with the added value that 2nd Mix brings to the Guitar Freaks package, those of you that have been unsure as to whether or not you should import the game now have even more of a reason to do so. It's still highly unlikely that the game will ever appear in the US, so importing (and working around the mod chip lockout, if necessary) is still the only way to go.